The debate

The ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ Approach
Responsible Capitalism or Business as Usual?

Public Debate
Said Business School
May 3, 2012


Aneel Karnani (University of Michigan)
John Hilary (War on Want)
John Madeley (author of Big Business, Poor Peoples)
Simon Maxwell (Climate Development Network)
Kate Meagher (London School of Economics)
Patricia O’Hayer (Unilever)
Jack Newnham (Business Innovation Facility)
Zahid Torres-Rahman (Business Fights Poverty)

The ‘bottom of the pyramid’approach has been lauded as one of the 21st century’s most innovative development strategies, a win-win partnership between business and development. Today some of the world’s largest corporations are engaging with the BoP, becoming key players in global development by selling products to improve health, nutrition and overall well-being in the rural markets of developing countries. Yet while the BoP approach is enthusiastically endorsed by business and development organisations alike, it is not without its critics. Opponents claim that such initiatives are nothing more than a cynical marketing ploy on behalf of the MNCs, for whom the mantra of ‘doing well by doing good’ is a smokescreen for business as usual. This public debate brings together leading champions and critics to air opposing views about the opportunities and risks of ‘bottom of the pyramid’ approaches to development. Please contact Pippa Hichens ( to reserve a space.

 Read a summary of the debate here